By Duke Ratliff
With spring in the air, specialty retailers Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel are emphasizing outdoor collections like never before.
Both stylish companies are taking a double-pronged marketing approach this season with outdoor goods placed prominently in their catalogs and on their websites.
Restoration Hardware recently dropped a hefty, 204-page Outdoor & Garden catalog, chock-full of upscale outdoor offerings. A romantic mood is set from the opening of the first page of the catalog with a highly stylized photo of longtime CEO Gary Friedman, wearing leather jacket and worn jeans. The overtly casual photo is accompanied with a 19th century quote: “I am sick of four walls and a ceiling. I have need for the sky, I have business with the grass.”
The catalog stylizes all-weather wicker collections in numerous southwestern-type settings; metal and collections amongst formal gardens; and more colorful teak offerings in California-lifestyle groupings. While Restoration Hardware does offer some dining collections (featuring tables made of material including concrete and teak), the bulk of the offerings and settings are of the seating/entertaining area variety with coffee tables and end tables.
All-weather wicker sofas range in price from $1,000 to $2,000. Aluminum sofa offerings range from $895-$1,300; teak sofas vary in price from $1,400-$1,900.
Restoration Hardware also offers a plethora of individual items such as large-scale Mediterranean olive jars ($395-$695), reclaimed wood planters ($495-$695), zinc planters ($189-$899) and ficonstone planters ($119-$289).
The Restoration Hardware outdoor catalog adds the ambiance of fire with a spread of modern fire tables and gel fire columns. Created from lightweight, heat-resistant fibercast concrete, the tables and pillars come in sand or weather slate finishes.
Outdoor-efficient heaters in all types and sizes (and price points), along with full spreads on light strings and solar lighting, are also designed to extend the enjoyment of the much-coveted, and much-discussed outdoor space.
The catalog devotes four pages to the French Riviera-inspired Cote D’Azur Collection of pillows, towel and totes in various colors including blue, soleil and poppy. A large selection of umbrellas spread across four pages adds color to the mostly brown and beige furniture offerings.
A visit to Restoration Hardware’s website finds “Outdoor” front and center on the company’s home page. Like the catalog, the site offers a special pre-season savings “for a limited time only.”
Meanwhile, Crate & Barrel flexes its outdoor muscles in its spring catalog, devoting approximately a quarter of the 80 pages to dining collections, seating collections and add-on items such as planters and umbrellas.
Interestingly, Crate spreads its outdoor settings throughout the catalog amidst pages of indoor furnishings. The headline over each outdoor spread/vignette reads “Save 15% off outdoor furniture purchases of $1,500 or more.”
Crate’s outdoor furnishings range in style from urban/contemporary to traditional wicker to California chic. The retailer’s Dune Lounge Collection is made of sleek, rust-resistant stainless steel frames upholstered in taupe, synthetic mesh. Tables feature back-painted, tempered glass. A sofa with cushions is priced at $1,299.
The Ventura Lounge Collection is made of modular frames in powder-coated aluminum hand-wrapped in resin wicker. The collection is available in stone or caliente colors. Tables have optional tempered-glass tops. A loveseat is priced at $899. The Alfresco Natural Rectangular Dining Collection includes a polystyrene, Parsons-style dining table in a natural finish and silver powder-coated rustproof aluminum frame. The rectangular dining table is priced at $599. Stackable arm chairs ($149) and bench ($299) are available with cushions offered in colors daffodil, cayenne, graphite, eggshell and peacock.
The traditional style Summerlin Outdoor Lounge Collection comes in handwoven all-weather resin wicker. Cushions in fade- and mildew-resistant Sunbrella acrylic are available in colors stone or phlox. The collection’s rocking loveseat costs $899.
Crate & Barrel’s spring catalog also offers some accessories such as planters. The company’s website has a much larger assortment with rugs, lighting, pillows and even barbecues.
Crate’s “15% off” deal is particularly prominent on its website.